Knowing When To Quit – Does Your Project REALLY Have A Future?

Posted on September 16, 2012 
Filed Under Productivity Tips

Today I have a guest post from my good friend Stuart…

Tomaz has just come for a short visit to Malta to get a little sun and warmth. It took the opportunity to rain – a real rarity here.

While here we discussed mindset – what else can you discuss with Tomaz other than tennis??? ;)

Stuart Langridge and me in Malta

Our conversation about business and success mindset lasted several hours – you need to be a bit geeky to hang around with us – and during that time I mentioned that I had recently been listening to an Eben Pagan training course, “How to build a successful business from scratch”.

I haven’t finished it yet, but am about half way through.

I buy a good number of marketing and internet marketing training courses and products. As with many people, I am trying to improve and grow and I realise that I do not have all the answers.

As I like to say, “I mostly don’t have the questions either…”

One of the points from the mindset session at the start of the course was the following, “80 percent of what I try won’t work”.

I found that really interesting because like so many people, I have a number of failed IM projects behind me. I also have a number of very marginally successful projects behind me as well.

I took that mindset as a way to start convincing myself to “abandon things that don’t work” more readily.

I should not really need this help, one of my favourite sayings ought to have been enough, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it”.

I wish I could remember who said it – apologies for not being able to attribute it.

Thinking this way has lead me to abandon a project recently though.

Earlier in the year I met a number of online marketing guys in Berlin. While talking to them, it became clear that there was an opportunity for me to work with a Danish guy.

He was hoping to add a linking service to other services he already provides for Danish internet types.

I suggested that I could build a blog network for him. I would find domains in GoDaddy Auctions with words like “denmark” and “danish” in the title and run them through a selection criteria to ensure they had some standing online.

He would then find someone that could provide written content in Danish and we would be off to the races.

I had not built a blog network before, so it would have been new to me, possibly interesting and with the potential to generate a new income source. Nice.

A few months (four) later and we had a few very average domains and no content. As often as I looked, there were no domains with the right profile expiring.

He had spent weeks looking for a content writer and failed. In the end, it took eleven weeks to get just five short articles written.

If our plan had come to fruition, we would have needed as many as perhaps two hundred articles at short notice.

In short, the plan was not looking good.

An email conversation between us had me trying to pull the plug, admitting that we just would not be able to deliver what we needed to and my Danish partner trying to push on.

We have finally (I hope) dropped the idea, but it was surprising to me just how hard that was because of his entrepreneurial drive, despite compelling evidence that the project was not going well.

We entrepreneurs want to succeed and have high hopes for the future.

We think that if we keep pushing on we can make anything work. Perhaps we can.

Sometimes though, we need to know when to quit.

Are you bashing away at a project that just does not seem to be justifying the effort?

You can read more by Stuart at http://www.stuartlangridge.com

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Comments

11 Responses to “Knowing When To Quit – Does Your Project REALLY Have A Future?”

  1. Tomaz on September 16th, 2012 7:34 am

    Here are a few more thoughts about knowing when to quit…

    I know of quite a few people that have had their websites running for years and have done nothing significant with them.

    And yet they cannot abandon them. They think: “Well, I have invested so much time, effort and money into them that I have to try and make them work.”

    Abandoning them would be acknowledging defeat and acknowledging failure.

    The only thing that would hurt in the short term is your ego, but in the long term you’re wasting the precious hours of your life when could be starting a new project with the extra knowledge your have now from your failed one.

    I also know some webmasters whose sites have been penalized by Google’s algorithms (manually, Panda or Penguin) and yet they keep trying to fix them with no success in sight.

    Sure, some sites can come back but some cannot.

    You need to be brutally honest, take a step back, look at what you’re doing and think whether your time is REALLY worth the effort.

    In some cases the answer will be NO.

    And then you need to be ruthless, get rid of those sites that waste your valuable time and start something new.

    Ask yourself whether you’re attached to the site you built and whether you think that’s your site.

    If you want to take care of something with love, do it with friends, family members and pets.

    If your site is penalized and you’re nowhere close to making it a success, then get rid of it.

    Cut the attachment and don’t create one in the first place. This is business not a Hollywood love story.

    The goal of business is to make profit.

    Sure, personal satisfaction and user feedback are important but if there is no profit, then this business needs to close.

    Be brutally honest and ruthless when you evaluate your current projects.

    [Reply]

  2. Carole on September 21st, 2012 8:34 am

    Hi Guys

    Just three years ago we were all in Barcelona for our conference…who would have guessed that SEO would be turned on it’s head and so many sites would be hit by Panda and Penguin.

    I couldn’t agree more Stuart …

    ‘We think that if we keep pushing on we can make anything work. Perhaps we can. Sometimes though, we need to know when to quit’.

    Many of us find it hard to detach ourselves from something we’ve spent hours working on but if we don’t… we end up wasting even more time.

    How right you are Tomaz…

    ‘Cut the attachment and don’t create one in the first place. This is business not a Hollywood love story’.

    I’m working on new projects and will put most of my other sites on the back-burner.

    All the best and good luck in Malta!
    Carole

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Good to hear from you, Carole!

    Yes, sometimes it’s time to burn the bridges and move on. If things are not moving on well, then the question whether to move on with a new project has to be considered…

    [Reply]

  3. Cindy on September 25th, 2012 10:57 am

    Yes. I have a successful eBook project whose sales I recently tried to augment with a website, sales page, and YouTube promotion. I then realized that even if I was successful and generated an ambitious level of traffic, the product’s low price point would keep me from making a significant extra income.

    My boyfriend has been pushing me for the last few months to just keep writing more eBooks (a surefire way to slowly increase income) and he was right. I overestimated the potential of my previous project (commensurate to the effort I was willing to put in) and finally said, okay. I didn’t do badly with this at all but my wild fantasies will not bear fruit here. Time to move on to the next thing.

    [Reply]

  4. Chris on October 2nd, 2012 7:25 pm

    For nearly five years I made a full time commitment to building an online business via SBI. Up until Oct ’11 things got better every month. Traffic and income increased every month and my 4 sites enabled me to support a family of five from home.

    That came to an abrupt end in Oct 2011 when Google’s algorithm updates began to bite. For the next six months I plugged away auditing and adding content.
    Traffic continued to decline and income from Amazon, CJ and Adsense went from $10-$12K per month to $650 in Sept’12.

    The sites are still up (hosted elsewhere) but I no longer work on them. My biggest regret is that I didn’t follow my instincts earlier. Dependence on others whether for employment or search engine traffic is not a winning formula.

    It’s clear that free search engine traffic is a thing of the past. The days of building a web site that generates free traffic are well and truly over.

    I certainly don’t consider myself a quitter. In fact I’m onto the next big adventure. Fortunately some of the skills I picked up over the last few years will definitely come in useful.

    The great thing about the age we live in is that there are more and better opportunities than have ever existed before. The trick is to recognize when it’s time to move on. Nothing lasts forever.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Thanks for sharing, Chris. Yes, doing well with search engines has gotten much more difficult because we don’t even know what’s wrong when it is wrong.

    I have looked at many sites in the last year where some were burned by Google and some weren’t and I couldn’t tell any difference in quality.

    So yes, I am also changing my business model focusing more on creating more own products and looking to selling them through various ways.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    @Tomaz, Not holding my breath, but encouraged by this: http://tinyurl.com/9seaxrt

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    @Chris, Wow Chris that´s exact what happened to me, it´s thrilling to read your story.

    I started in 2007, also had 3/4 website and earned about €60/65k a year from them. In sept 2011 everything changed from about 5/6k a month to €700/800 a month. After that i was slapped again where my income decreased to a whopping €400-500/month.

    I worked like crazy, invested a lot for article writing, added a lot of images and videos and did my best to suit the visitor in the hope that Google would appreciate it ;-) It didn’t work until now… My focus on money turned into a focus on what I like and deliver value.

    In my eyes i earned a lot of money and bought everything I liked. I bought my dream car a BMW, Yamaha r6 motorcycle, driving license, rented an expensive house and enjoyed life to the fullest! At some point i noticed I didn’t appreciate the small things in life, that’s what hurts the most at that time. It also put me back on the ground because i was used to have a lot of money and bought everything.

    After finishing my bachelor in real estate I decided to move on, I brainstormed a lot about what i would like to do after my study and got stuck because i didn´t have any working experience or references of what I wanted or what I was good at. I only knew I would set up a offline/online company so I would not be completely dependable of the internet only.

    At some point (it took 4-5 months and a lot of brain crushing) I realized that I knew a lot of seo since I was doing it for 5-6 years. I think it took so long because I was insecure of my capabilities and knowhow according to seo. So I decided to check the references of some “seo companies”. I noticed that they were doing the same, more or less, as we learned from Sitesell. So the idea was born! I would start an seo consulting company. There were a lot of advantages: because the startup costs are low, you don’t take too much risk and the market for seo is pretty immature in my country. I will be a seo consultant for small and medium business. The company is just in the startup phase and it will take a lot work but it’s a great way for me to move on and enrich myself ;-)

    I was very disappointed when it all happened. You can also approach it from another angle, i learned some important life lessons! Since i am 24 and have a whole life in front of me (hopefully), it’s was worth the effort and i learned a lot from this journey.

    Some lessons I learned during my SBI journey:
    Nothing lasts forever ;-)
    It’s not about reaching goals it’s about the journey to reach the goal.
    Do whatever you like the most.
    You can better regret things that you have done, than regretting things you haven’t done.
    Move on when you tried everything!

    btw: Nice post Thomaz!!

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Thanks for sharing, Mark. Lots of wisdom in your post…

    [Reply]

  5. Chris on October 3rd, 2012 4:20 pm

    The key thing that I’ve learned from the “exercise” is to put more trust to my instincts and less in “rationalized conclusions.”

    When Ken Evoy delivered his statistical opus on Panda, Penguin et al my instincts told me it was pure BS. In my view when someone is incapable of giving a succinct answer to a question there is a high probability that they don’t know the answer. When they then go onto to tell you that they have XYD qualifications and came top in the class yadda yadda you know it’s pure BS.

    Ken has a business to run and I understand he needs to keep his customers. It’s unfortunate that he sees a need to present himself as an oracle with the answers to overcoming the gyrations in the Google algorithm. He doesn’t!

    The basic fact is that Google has made a conscious decision to tighten the screws and get every last penny out of search. It doesn’t give a rat’s about the quality of search results. It simply wants to make money on every single search.

    For Ken Evoy to tell webmasters that they need to audit, re-write, improve the quality of their content, eliminate links from bad neighborhoods … is crap. IT NO LONGER MATTERS and anyone can prove that for themselves in minutes whether they have a degree in stats or not.

    While successful SBI sites with lots of traffic still exist my impression is that most of them are NOT in niches that are easily monetized. I’ve compared the “Proof” sites from 4 years ago with those appearing today and it’s interesting to note those that have disappeared from the list.

    The SBI model for generating free search engine traffic and financial independence has become obsolete. It’s sad to see that the company is still enticing new customers with a dream that few if any will ever achieve post Panda …

    [Reply]

  6. Zeng on December 12th, 2012 3:56 pm

    I too had an SBI site that earned a good income for my family but was crushed by the recent pandas and penguins. A friend of mine did too, his site was on SBI’s results page, but now it has vanished from the search engines and the results page, etc. along with his income. The forum is full of similar sad stories.

    I’m very grateful for the good times and the income from SBI, but now I plan to move my site. One problem with it is the C2 pages that can often be very thin content.

    Anyway @Chris mentioned that he still has his sites but now hosted elsewhere. I’m going to do that and I am curious if you used wordpress with a plug-in to make .html page URLs or?

    Thanks and good luck to everyone.

    [Reply]

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